Jessica Arnold transforms from a redhead to legally blonde.
The 15-year-old Ironwood High School sophomore dyed her hair for her role as Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde: The Musical,” which opened Friday at Valley Youth Theatre.
“I almost didn’t recognize myself when I looked in the mirror because I really am Elle now, and that’s just amazing to me,” said Arnold. “I’m extremely happy that I have the chance at this role so early in my career and I’m learning so much.”
Even though she’s had principal roles in other musicals, Elle Woods is the biggest she’s ever had.
“There are so many challenges with this role and it’s been a dream come true for me to take on this part because I’m always on,” Arnold said.
“Legally Blonde” is based on the novel of the same name and the 2001 film with Reese Witherspoon. The story follows sorority girl Elle Woods, who enrolls at Harvard University to win back her ex-boyfriend, Warner.
But she soon discovers her knowledge of the law and proves she has more than just looks.
In 2007, “Legally Blonde: The Musical” debuted on Broadway and garnered 10 Tony nominations. The musical also spawned a reality series and a national tour.
Songs from the musical include “Omigod You Guys,” “So Much Better,” “Serious,” “Positive,” “Chip on My Shoulder” and “Legally Blonde.”
Arnold said she’s always wanted to be Elle Woods.
“Ever since I heard the soundtrack and saw the musical, I knew I wanted to be in the show and hoped that I had the chance to play Elle,” she said. “She’s always on stage and has some really big numbers that I’ve had to prepare for, but I’m up for the challenge.”
In addition, Arnold is joined on stage by 19-year-old Glendale resident Aaron Arsenault, who portrays Elle’s second love interest, law teacher Emmett.
Arsenault has performed at various theaters throughout the West Valley, but will be making his VYT debut in a novel role.
He’s known for playing more “tough guy” roles, including Gaston in “Beauty and the Beast” at Theater Works and Fonzie in Creative Stages Youth Theatre’s production of “Happy Days: The Musical,” which recently earned him an AriZoni Award nomination.
“Emmett is a regular guy and I’ve not had a chance to play that type of role really, so it’s been great to play someone that’s just a nice person and not egotistical,” Arsenault said.
Arsenault said he loves the message of “Legally Blonde” and feels everyone could relate to it.
“It’s about being true to yourself and not judging a book by its cover, because Elle goes on to great things and many didn’t think she would,” he said.
IF YOU GO
What: “Legally Blonde: The Musical.”
When: Shows run through Aug. 26.
Where: Valley Youth Theatre, at Herberger Theater Center, 222 E. Monroe St., Phoenix.
Cost: $16.50 to $34.50.
Information: (602) 252-8497 or www.vyt.com.
• Contact Mitchell Vantrease at (623) 876-2526 or firstname.lastname@example.org.